Hot Topics: Eric Kohn and Dana Harris of Indiewire and Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land. Photo: Lansia Wann
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For the second year in a row, the first day of the South by Southwest Film Festival was a dark and rainy one. But that didn't stop us from putting together a bright and shiny first episode of the Film Society Daily Buzz with Eugene Hernandez podcast! Austinites and festival-goers can listen to the show every night at 9:00pm on our broadcast partner KUT 90.5 and online at kut.org. For those who can't wait another moment, we've got the full podcast right here and on iTunes (subscribe).
Today's Hot Topic roundtable with Eric Kohn and Dana Harris of Indiewire and Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land quickly turned to the increased presence of television at SXSW and audiences' demand for instant access to the content they hear about out of festivals like this one.
"I remember a few years ago, IFC had Portlandia here… now TV is everywhere. If you open the SXSW app, the opening ad is for Shameless," noted Harris. She and Kohn lamented the shift of focus away from the low-budget filmmaking that has traditionally characterized the festival, but admitted: "That's where a lot of indie filmmakers are going. That's where they're making not just their money but a lot of their art, which is great. You can't be a snob about it."
Adding his two cents on where the festival's Interactive section fits into this debate, Sullivan said he'd like to see the lines blur even further. "Last year I think they had one session focused on tech and marketing aspects of TV and I've seen several of those going on [this year]… Then, of course, there's the popular topic of piracy and getting video on demand and film on demand. [Laughs] Maybe sometimes it's good that the Film side and the Interactive side aren't getting together in that sense."
When asked more about the topic of quick access to Film and TV content online, Sullivan elaborated: "People will usually pay for the content. That's not the issue. The issue is that people can't find what they want when they want to be able to get it. I think down the line things like windowing releases are going to go, well, out the window."
TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away from Keyboard director Simon Klose. Photo: Lansia Wann
The issue of piracy is central to one of this year's SXSW documentaries, TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away from Keyboard. Director Simon Klose visited the Daily Buzz studio in the Stateside Theater to introduce his film, which depicts the controversy and legal battles surrounding Swedish BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay.
Klose was adamant that online filesharing is not the enemy: "Access to information and access to films and culture is good for artists… We shouldn't build up walls on the internet. We shouldn't try to make a cable TV network of the internet, which a lot of big companies are trying to do."
When asked what obstacles stood in the way of the open model his film defends, he replied: "I think we should try and give the consumers the products in the way they want to see them. People do want to stream and they do want to download… That's why I've licensed my film with a Creative Commons license that lets me spread the film and share it online."
Klose released TPB AFK on the internet four weeks ago and 1.5 million people have already watched the film. In his opinion, that kind of instant access—the ability to watch a film immediately after first hearing about it instead of months or even years later—may be the future of film distribution. He acknowledged, however, the fiscal freedom he enjoys as a filmmaker because he is mostly financed by television stations in Europe.
"I think we need to experiment more," Klose concluded.
Day One Guests:
Eric Kohn, Indiewire
Dana Harris, Indiewire
Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land
TINY: A Story About Living Small (Christopher Smith, Merete Mueller)
TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay Away from Keyboard (Simon Klose)
SAKE-BOMB (Junya Sakino)
Jonathan Marlow, Fandor